Thieboudienne: Senegalese Rice and Fish
I am trying not to start my recipe posts with the usual “I love…”, so here goes my attempt. Once upon a time, I was introduced to a Senegalese restaurant in downtown Baltimore by one of my dear Cameroonian friends. This trip created a soft spot in my food heart (aka my belly) for Senegalese cuisine. As a Nigerian myself, I thought that nothing could rival Nigerian food in this spot, but after I tasted the National dish of Senegal, Thieboudienne, there was a mini war for my food heart. Thieboudienne is a mouth watering rice and fish dish that is like nothing I had before.
I could be tempted to say it is like Jollof rice, but it really is not. Thieboudienne has a distinctively different taste that Jollof rice doesn’t mimic. While Nigerian food is still near and dear to my food heart, I have had to make more room for other cuisines, and as it looks now Senegalese food, especially thieboudienne, is sitting pretty right next to Nigerian food.
How did I do with not using my favorite phrase: “I love”…?
In this recipe I used broken jasmine which is what is called for traditionally, but you could use regular jasmine rice. If you have access to an Asian market, you can find broken jasmine rice labeled as jasmine rice bits. Also feel free to use any type of fish that you can easily find. I used blue snapper. You may use any vegetable of your preference, I used sweet potatoes, eggplants, carrots, bell peppers and cabbage. As a final note, preparing thieboudienne is quite the labor of love, so I will save it for special occasions.
This recipe begins with soaking 2 cups of the rice while prepping the other ingredients.
Enjoy my recipe!
- A handful of parsley (about a heaping cup)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 scotch bonnet/ habanero pepper
- 1 tsp shrimp bouillon
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2.5 lbs blue snapper fish preferably cut into fish steaks (or any white fish of your choice)
- With a mortar and pistol or in a food processor, grind the parsley, garlic, scotch bonnet, bullion black pepper and salt into a rough paste.
- Poke two holes into the flesh of the fish and stuff them with the parsley mix.
- Broil or Fry the fish until it is golden brown on each side, and set aside for the sauce.
- 2 cups of broken jasmine rice or regular jasmine rice (soaking)
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 purple eggplant
- 4 carrots (I used orange purple and yellow carrots)
- ½ a head of cabbage
- 2 bell peppers
- 3 scotch bonnet/ habanero peppers
- For the sauce
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1 large onions sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 scotch bonnet/ habanero peppers ( I used green scotch bonnets, the color doesn't really matter)
- 3 tbsp shrimp bouillon
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Salt to taste
- In a mortar and with a pistol or in a food processor grind the scotch bonnet peppers and garlic into a rough paste)
- Saute the sliced onions in the oil over medium heat until translucent
- Add in the tomato paste, and stir fry for 5 minutes. The tomato paste may start to brown a little.
- Add in the ground garlic and scotch bonnet and stir fry for another 2 minutes
- Add in bullion, black pepper, and 8 cups of water. At this stage, taste the sauce for salt, and adjust to your preference.
- Add in the tough vegetable first in to the sauce and cook until tender. In this case, add in the sweet potatoes, cook until tender and remove, then the carrots, cook until tender and remove. Continue adding in the vegetables until all the vegetables are cooked.
- Set the cooked vegetables aside and then add in the fish and cook in the sauce for 2-5 minutes.
- Once the fish has simmered in the sauce for 2-5 minutes, gently remove it from the sauce.
- At this point, drain the rice that has been cooking and pour into the sauce. The sauce should just cover the rice. Adjust the amount of water at this stage if needed to make sure that the rice is just covered.
- Cover the pot and simmer on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes. You may seal the cover of the pot with foil to prevent steam from escaping.
- At the 15 minute mark, check that the rice has absorbed the moisture and is soft. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes if it needs more time. If the water has dried up and the rice is still not soft, add in 4 tbsp of water, cover and allow to cook.
- Serve hot with the vegetables and fish, and lime wedges